After only 22 years, it looks like the water softener has died. The SO got
an estimate from Kinetico $3000. NFW! At the same time, I see really cheap
ones at Menards, probably won't last.
Anyway, I'm looking for a middle size capacity standard resin system water
softener with good value. Suggestions?
It's a rathole...I priced out several options and went with an
inexpensive and quite possibly also cheap (in the unflattering way) GE
unit. The internaut abounds with expensive options that think they are
cheap because they are less than what local plumbers are overcharging.
Water softeners certainly appear to be one of those realms where soaking
the customer is the order of the day, because the average customer
regards water softening as some sort of black magic, and is therefore
susceptible to meaningless mumbo-jumbo. Toss in fear of plumbing and you
have victims ripe for the plucking.
I ultimately decided that all their hype smelled foul. When this one
dies I'll evaluate where we got to with it. It certainly uses less water
and salt than the old dinosaur did. But it if only lives to the end of
its warrantee (overpriced or hard-to-get repair parts are a reported
downside), it will still take several units to add up to the cheapest
thing on the web water softener floggers' sites, and twice that to get
to the local plumbers' / treatment companies' pricing. Since the longest
warrantee from any of them is only two of the warrantee from the el
cheapo option, I'll take my chances with needing to swap out a unit from
time to time.
I've always had good results with the Sears Kenmore units -- three different
ones, over the years, in different houses. Wait for them to go on sale, then
get one of the models with "on-demand" regeneration (as opposed to using a
timer). They use much less salt, and do a much better job of keeping the water
at a more-or-less-uniform level of softness.
I priced one recently for a friend - for the same capacity, $800
online compared to $4k from a local dealer. Tanks and control appeared
identical. Local version claimed better media, but I couldn't find
anything beyond advertising hype to back that up. The difference in
price could be put towards more useful stuff, like diet pizza or
magnetic gas savers. :-)
You didn't say what died on the old softener but this may help:
My softener is a decent Sears unit originally put in service in 1976. My
city water comes in at 85 psi and has some iron/clay sediment. The high
pressure churns the grains, the sediment slowly poisons the resin. Every
10 years or so I tear the unit down, clean out the dirt residue out of
the brine tank from the salt cubes, bring the resin tank in to have new
resin installed, I'm good to go. They softener place charged me $85 for
the resin if I installed it, $115 if they installed it. They have a
upside down wash bed, takes them 10 minutes to flush and refill.
The refill place is about 60 miles from you,work could be done while you
Karl Townsend wrote:
I'm sure the resin is shot. The machine goes through its cycles, water
doesn't get soft. been getting worse slowly for years. The SO decided she
was pissed, still good enough for me. Didn't know of this option, will
they redo a Culligan and can you give me a name /number?
if you'd rather email, karltownsendembarqmail.com replace the with
My Kenetico is around 15 years old. I have heavy iron and iron bacteria. It
still works well and has had very little maintenances in that time. A few
plastic gears had to be replaced and having the service guy come out cost
$120. The most expensive thing is buy the salt. Other systems that I had
need new media every year. I came out in the long run.
The Kinetico units are well designed, last a
long time and minor adjustments are easily done.
If I were you, I'd do some shopping around for
a used or gray market Kinetico. The Kinetico
dealers can change the resin without replacing
the whole unit.
Here in the UK, we can get a permutit model from B& Q for =A3550 for a
fully automatic unti that does the regeneration only as required.
My folks had an earlier type that lasted over 30 years with no
problems, including four house moves.
I have recently installed a unit I bought from e-bay, also permutit.
Installation is very simple, all thats really required is a bit of
basic plumbing knowledge and the place to put it
A lot depends on how hard your water is to start with and what's in
it. If you're using well water that's got a lot of iron in it or
other chemicals that need pre-treatment, it's going to get expensive.
If you've just got moderately hard water, you can probably get by with
a cheapy unit. My dad swapped three different units in his place, the
first was a Sears that had the brine tank under pressure, required
draining it, a wrench to get the lid off, lots of petroleum jelly to
seal the O-ring on the lid and a giant funnel to get the salt into
it. Not a lot of fun. Later ones were a lot easier, just a plastic
bin to dump in the salt, not under pressure and no big strain to fill
up, not like the 5' tank that the old one had. The second one got
zapped by lightning, was cheaper to go get a new one than to replace
the controller board. Lots more plastic parts on the newer ones, a
lot more easily man-handled into place, too. The on-demand feature
more than pays for itself. I think the last one wasn't more than two
or three hundred bucks from the likes of Menard. He got smart that
time and put in a surge protector on the outlet. Also put in a
sediment filter on the input line to the thing, the place had iron
pipes and stuff was always flaking off. Had to change the filter
about every 4-5 months as they got filled up. 3 grand seems a little
outrageous to me, you could go get 4 or 5 spares for that kind of cash
outlay, change them every couple of years if you had to and be money
ahead. Seems like '60s prices. Over the years, the basic technology
is the same, but the controllers and construction keep getting cheaper
My better half was NOT interested in repairing the old unit. "You just got a
Plasma Cutter!" I can see that Plasma cutter is getting expensive. No sooner
did I make this purchase than she pointed out we need a new front screen
door. Repair was suggested, but not received as an option.
That Fleck softener looks OK to me. I used to sell water softeners
as a sideline many years ago. Ole Rice built them in his garage. I
bought one from him so that made me a dealer. Much to my surprise, I
sold a number of Ole's softeners over the years. He used Autotrol
controllers. The one I have in my house is nearing 30 years of
service, still workin' fine. Ole expired a decade ago.